Bills Digest no. 119 2009–10
Healthcare Identifiers (Consequential Amendments) Bill
This Digest was prepared for debate. It reflects the legislation as
introduced and does not canvass subsequent amendments. This Digest
does not have any official legal status. Other sources should be
consulted to determine the subsequent official status of the
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Healthcare Identifiers (Consequential
Amendments) Bill 2010
Date introduced: 10 February 2010
Portfolio: Health and Ageing
Commencement: Sections 1–3: on Royal Assent; Schedule 1 and
Schedule 2 Part 1: at the same time as the Healthcare
Identifiers Act 2010 commences; Schedule 2 Part 2: the later
of immediately after the commencement of item 26 of Schedule 5 to
the Personal Property Securities (Consequential Amendments) Act
2009 and immediately after the commencement of the
Healthcare Identifiers Act 2010.
relevant links to the Bill, Explanatory Memorandum and second
reading speech can be accessed via BillsNet, which is at http://www.aph.gov.au/bills/.
When Bills have been passed they can be found at ComLaw, which is
The purpose of this Bill is to make minor amendments to the
Health Insurance Act 1973 and the Privacy Act
1988 to ensure that the Healthcare Identifiers Service to be
established under the Healthcare Identifiers Bill 2010 (once
enacted) operates efficiently and correctly.
Amendments to the Health Insurance Act 1973 will
authorise the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Medicare Australia
to delegate functions to officers of that organisation to support
the day-to-day operation of the Healthcare Identifier Service.
Amendments to the Privacy Act 1988 will enhance the
functions of the Privacy Commissioner as the independent regulator
of the Healthcare Identifiers Service.
Detailed information on the policy
background and issues raised in relation to the Healthcare
Identifiers Service are discussed in the Bills
Digest prepared for the principal Bill dealing with the
national system, the Healthcare Identifiers Bill 2010.
On 24 February 2010 the Healthcare Identifiers Bill 2010 and the
Healthcare Identifiers (Consequential Amendments) Bill 2010 were
referred to the
Community Affairs Legislation Committee for inquiry and report
by 15 March 2010.
Reason stated for referral and principal issues for
- privacy safeguards in the Bill
- operation of the Healthcare Identifier Service, including
access to the Identifier
- Relationship to national e-health agenda and electronic health
It is expected that submissions on the Bills will be received
- Australian Medical Association
- Royal Australasian College of General Practitioners
- National e-Health Transition Authority
- Australian Nursing Federation,
- Australian Information Industry Association
Healthcare Identifiers Service will be funded to 30 June 2012 as
part of $218 million allocated by the Council of Australian
Governments to the National E-Health Transition Authority (NEHTA)
in November 2008. Under the National Partnership Agreement on
E-Health, funding is contributed to by the Commonwealth and
the states and territories.
has allocated $52.02 million to fund the operation of the
Healthcare Identifiers Service by Medicare Australia for
2010–11 and 2011–12.
addition, the Commonwealth has provided funding of $0.5 million for
2010–11 and 2011–12 to the Office of the Privacy
Commissioner to provide regulatory oversight and advice on the
introduction of healthcare identifiers.
Funding for the Healthcare Identifiers Service from 30 June 2012
will be determined through discussion between the Commonwealth,
states and territories.
There are two Schedules to this Bill.
Item 1 of Schedule 1 will amend the Health
Insurance Act 1973 subsection 131(1) in relation to delegation
powers held by the Minister, the Secretary of the Department of
Health and Ageing and the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Medicare
Australia to include the Health Care Identifiers Act 2010.
This will allow the CEO of Medicare Australia to delegate functions
associated with the operation of the Healthcare Identifiers Service
to officers of that organisation.
Schedule 2 Part 1
Schedule 2 Part 1 proposes to amend the Privacy Act
1988. Schedule 2 Part 1 (items 1–3)
Section 6(1) of the Privacy Act as follows to:
- include ‘service operator of the Healthcare Identifiers
Act in the existing definition of ‘agency’
- insert the new term ‘healthcare identifier’ to mean
the same as in the Healthcare Identifiers Act and
- insert the new term ‘healthcare identifiers’
offence to mean
- an offence
against section 26 of the Healthcare Identifiers Act or
- an offence
against section 6 of the Crimes Act 1914 that relates to
an offence under section 26 of the Healthcare Identifiers Act
Item 4 proposes to add a note to section 13
stating that contravention of the Healthcare Identifiers Act or
regulations made under the Act is an interference with the privacy
of the individual and is covered under section 13 of that Act.
Additional powers to Privacy Commissioner
The Bill proposes to insert a new section 27A to identify
additional functions for the Privacy Commissioner in relation to
Item 5 proposes that these will be:
- to investigate an act or practice that may be an interference
with the privacy of an individual under subsection 29(1) of the
Healthcare Identifiers Act 2010 and, if the Commissioner
considers it appropriate to do so, to attempt by conciliation, to
effect a settlement of the matters that gave rise to the
- to do anything incidental or conducive to the performance of
Proposed subsection 27A(2) will enable the
Privacy Commissioner to do all things that are necessary or
convenient to be done for or in connection with the performance of
the Commissioner’s functions under subsection (1).
Proposed subsection 27A(3) provides that
Section 38 (severability) of the Healthcare Identifiers Act applies
to this section in the same way as it applies to Parts 3 and 4 of
Item 6 will make technical amendments to
recognise the insertion of section 27A.
Item 7 proposes to amend
subsection 49(1) by adding ‘healthcare identifier
offence’ to the types of offences which in the
commissioner’s opinion have been committed. The commissioner
would have formed such an opinion during the course of an
investigation under section 340 of the Privacy Act. Where the
commissioner forms this opinion, he or she must inform the
Commissioner of Police or the Director of Public Prosecutions of
Schedule 2 Part 2
Schedule 2 Part 2 (items 8 to 11) will insert
minor amendments to the Privacy Act contingent on the Personal
Property Securities (Consequential Amendments) Act 2009 which
has yet to commence operation.
This Bill contributes to the government strategy to establish a
single national healthcare identifier system for patients,
healthcare providers and healthcare facilities by making minor
amendments to existing Acts. These amendments are intended to
ensure that a Healthcare Identifiers Service, to be established
under the Healthcare Identifiers Bill 2010, operates efficiently
26 February 2010
Bills Digest Service
Members, Senators and Parliamentary staff can obtain further
information from the Parliamentary Library on (02) 62772429
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